Prepping 101

Prepping 101 – What You Need to Know to Get Started

The modern prepper movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Nobody really knows how many people now call themselves preppers; but their name is legion. The millions of preppers who are now taking responsibility for their own lives have transformed the idea of prepping from a mere fringe movement to being a part of mainstream America.

But why is this so? What has moved so many people to invest their time and resources in something that can be seen as nothing more than speculation? Is it worth it or are these people just operating out of fear?

Every year, an average of 68,000 people lose their lives to natural disasters. While horrific, that’s only a small portion of the 218 million people whose lives are affected to some degree or another by those same disasters. In addition, there are currently 33 million people worldwide who are refugees from one conflict or another; 795 million people don’t have enough food to eat to maintain health and 160 million people died in wars during the 20th century.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. From regional natural disasters to world wars, even personal disasters that hit no more than a single family. But each ends up doing the same thing… destroying lives. The people who are hit by those disasters and those who try to live through their aftermath struggle to make it; and make no mistake about it, surviving the aftermath is often worse than surviving the disaster itself.

Currently, our country is facing the possibility of several major events, each of which could be devastating. The two most likely are a financial collapse and a high-altitude EMP attack. Either could bring the country to its knees, requiring years for recovery to occur… if recovery happens at all.

The truth is, including personal disasters, the average person goes through several disasters in their lifetime. The big question is how badly they are affected by those disasters and that depends mostly upon how well they are prepared to face it.

That’s what prepping is all about. Preppers are nothing more than people who have decided to take responsibility for their own lives, rather than trusting the government to take care of them. When a disaster comes, they aren’t going to be hoping that FEMA gets there with government aid; they’ll be taking care of themselves. To this end, they stockpile supplies, make plans and learn skills to help them survive.

So, What Do You Do?

One of the big questions that face every prepper is what to do when the inevitable disaster comes. This basically boils down to the question of whether to bug out or bug in. Bugging out means leaving your home and heading off to find someplace safe. While many people think that means bugging out to the wilderness, there are many other places to go. For most of us, those are better than trying to survive in the wild. Bugging in means sheltering in place; turning your home into a survival shelter.

The decision about whether to bug out or bug is bantered back and forth constantly, but there is no one perfect answer. Those who advocate bugging in are thinking of an ideal little homestead, where they can survive the aftermath of a disaster and even a breakdown of society. While that makes a nice picture, it’s impossible for many. It only works for those who live far enough out towards the fringes of the city, that they can live safely in their homestead.

But the majority of our population is urban, not rural. According to the US Census Bureau, slightly less than 20% of Americans live in rural areas. Of those who live in urban areas, about two-thirds live in the suburbs and about one-third in the high-density part of the city. All of these people face the risk of the most dangerous predator on the face of the Earth… man.

It is said that desperate people do desperate things, and if there is anything that will make people desperate, it is for them and their children to go hungry. Since the average family only has three to five days worth of food in the house, and the average supermarket only has three days worth of food on the shelves, it only takes a week after a disaster hits for people to become desperate. If the supply chains are not reinstated in that time, they start doing desperate things.

While it might be nice to stay in your home and turn it into a homestead, the reality is that unless your home is located in a place where it is unlikely to be bothered by these desperate people, chances are high that your home will be attacked, just for the vegetables you have growing in your garden.

Basically, the violence will start in the center of the city, where the population is highest and the resources available to survive are the least. From there, it will work its way outward. So, those who live the farthest from the city center have the most time. But if the aftermath of the disaster lasts long enough, there is still a chance of violence reaching the farthest-flung suburbs of a major city.

Unless your home is a well-armed fortress, with a small army of defenders inside, bugging in will mean putting yourself and your family at risk. So, you need to be ready to bug out at a moment’s notice, before things can get that bad.

Bugging Out

Bugging out exit sign

But bugging out doesn’t mean just grabbing the kids and running. Pardon my saying so, but that’s a good way to die. Unless you have properly planned and prepared for a bug out, leaving your home to live in the wild can be extremely dangerous. When you leave, you want to make sure it is to move your family to safety, not into greater danger.

Ideally, that means having a survival shelter someplace you can bug out to. Unfortunately, few of us can afford a cabin in the woods for that purpose. If we could, we’d already have them. So without having that prepared survival shelter, bugging out is a major undertaking. As such, it should not be entered into lightly. Proper preparation, equipment, supplies and knowledge are needed, as well as a plan for how you are going to bug out and how you are going to survive.

Bug Out Plan

Survival Planning Notebook

Any effective bug out requires a plan. This is multi-faceted, dealing mostly with what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. If you don’t have any idea of what triggers necessitate bugging out, then you probably won’t be ready to bug out at the right time. In fact, the time will come and go, and you still won’t have bugged out. While that won’t necessarily mean your death, it will probably mean more hardship than you would otherwise have.

Your plan has to be designed to meet your family’s needs. That means it has to take into account the needs and limitations of your family. There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” bug out plan. You’ll have to develop your own, including a thousand details, such as communications, route, destination and what you’re going to do once you get there.

That’s where we come in. Maybe you’re not a expert on bugging out. That’s okay. We can help you develop the right bug out bag, customized for your needs. We’re here to help, because we recognize the need.

Bug Out Location (BOL)

Bug out Location in the Mountains

A key element of anyone’s bug out plan is their destination. Where are you going to take your family or survival team, so that you can survive whatever disaster and its aftermath? Most people refer to heading off into the wilderness, but there are other options. Even if you do head out into the wilderness, you need to find someplace to go. You will need a location that will provide you with the resources to survive, as well as protect you from those two-legged predators you left the city to flee.

Picking a location also means scouting out that location and making sure it will do what you need, as well as scouting out the route to get there. Details like water, game and building materials are important. You must have a source of food and you must have something you can use as a shelter. Fortunately, if you know where to look, nature provides these things.

You’ve got to realize, building a shelter is difficult, especially if you are planning on building it from materials you find in nature. While it can be done, you had better take some time to learn how, before heading off over the horizon. But keep in mind, there are other options too. You don’t need to build a shelter, if you have one of our base camp kits. It comes with everything you need to establish your camp, without having to cut down trees and build a log cabin.

You still need to consider those things, even if you’re not planning on bugging out to the wild. That cousin whose home you’re planning on bugging out to; do they have a secure source of water? What about food? No matter what your plan is, it has to take into consideration your family’s needs, either by finding the things there or pre-positioning them in supply caches.

Bug Out Vehicle (BOV)Bug out Vehicle Land Rover


Obviously, you’re going to need to have a way to get to that bug out location. For most people, this means their car or truck. Some go so far as to buy a four-wheel-drive truck or SUV, specifically for use as a BOV. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what’s more important is making sure the vehicle is ready for the bug out. The best vehicle, unprepared, won’t do everything you need it to.

Once again, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to this question. While a 4 x 4 pickup might be an attractive option, in some parts of the country that would be like hanging a sign on the back of your car, saying “Prepper.” In other areas, that truck isn’t going to make it out of town, especially once the roads turn into a parking lot of overheated or out of gas vehicles.

Bug Out Bag (BOB)

Bug Out Bag on White Background

When it comes time to bug out, there probably isn’t going to be time to stop and pack a suitcase. You’ll need to have everything ready, so that you can grab it and go. That’s the purpose of a bug out bag. It’s a carefully thought out and packed backpack, with everything you need for survival. While it may not have your favorite shirt and jeans in it, it will have the means of creating shelter, clean water, stock some food and even have a first-aid kit to help you if you get injured.

While a bug out bag may not be the only thing you take on a bug out, it will be the first thing. It will also be the last thing you will let go of, if you have to abandon your vehicle and go on foot. The contents of that bag are carefully selected to meet your needs. Anything else you bring is icing on the cake.

Everyday Carry Bag (EDC)

EDC Kit on white background

But what if you’re not at home when it comes time to bug out? Actually, that possibility is much more likely than anything else. With our active lifestyles, chances of being home when a disaster hits are slim. Therefore, your first survival task is to make it home, before you grab your BOB and head out.

That’s what the everyday carry bag is for. Keeping it with you at all times gives you the capability of having the necessary survival equipment to get you home. While it won’t have enough for you to live on for a week, it will provide some valuable and essential equipment and supplies. It will also be small enough that it will be practical to carry with you, rather than trying to carry your BOB around all the time. Besides, if you used your BOB to get home, it might have to be restocked before you could leave again.

Survival Skills and Mindset

Basic Survival Skill of cooking outdoors

Finally, you’ve got to have the right skills to survive. Do you know how to start a fire? Can you catch fish with nothing more than some line and a hook? Do you know where to look for water? Can you catch a squirrel and prepare it for dinner? Would you spot a natural shelter, while walking in the woods?

Survival requires many specialized skills; skills that most people don’t know today. We’re used to our comfortable city lives, in which those skills aren’t all that useful. But if a disaster comes, those skills could very well be the ones we need to get us through. So, it’s essential to learn a new set of skills, to go along with our bug out bags, vehicles, and plans.

It’s also necessary to develop the right mindset. It is interesting that in every military survival manual, the first thing they talk about is having a positive attitude. Why is that? Because your attitude will make you or break you in a time of crisis. Those with the right mindset are the ones will strive to overcome, while others will give up all too easy.

Bringing it all together

All these things together become your bug out plan. Yes, it’s a lot and it takes time to put together. But, let me ask you something. Do you have insurance? If you’re like most of us, you have several types. Well, having a complete bug out plan, including your BOB, BOL and BOV is just one more type of insurance. You do it to give your family security, nothing more. Then, when the time comes and you need it, you’re not one of those people waiting on FEMA with your fingers crossed, you have a plan and you know what to do.

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